Government aides helped New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who fielded book offers of more than $4 million, edit his pandemic tome and hide the extent of coronavirus deaths in the state, according to The New York Times.
Cuomo, who published “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic” as more than 50,000 New Yorkers died from the virus, fielded offers of more than $4 million last summer.
Melissa DeRosa, his top aide, attended video meetings with publishers and helped him edit the book. Fellow top aide Stephanie Benton had assistants print portions of the book and deliver them to Cuomo at his Albany mansion.
Cuomo also relied on junior staffers for “everything from full-scale edits to minor clerical work, potentially running afoul of state laws prohibiting use of public resources for personal gain,” The Times reported.
A spokesman told the Times that DeRosa and Benton “volunteered on this project” while off-duty, arguing that was “permissible and consistent with ethical requirements.”
“Every effort was made to ensure that no state resources were used in connection with this project,” spokesman Rich Azzopardi said. “To the extent an aide printed out a document, it appears incidental.”
Aides hid Covid death toll during this time:
The work on the book came ahead of a Health Department report that threatened to reveal the true number of coronavirus deaths at nursing homes. A report by New York Attorney General Letitia James earlier this year found that Cuomo’s administration undercounted nursing home deaths by up to 50% as the governor directed facilities to accept recovering coronavirus patients and inserted a liability waiver for nursing homes into the state’s budget.
DeRosa and other top aides “expressed concern about the higher death toll” that would be published in the Health Department report, and it was removed from the final version after their intervention, according to the Times.
Azzopardi denied that there was a connection between the book and the report.
“There is no connection between the report and this outside project, period,” he said. “And any suggestion otherwise is just wrong.”
DeBlasio criticism also cut:
The final version of Cuomo’s book also excluded three pages of drafts slamming New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, with whom the governor has feuded for years.
Cuomo blasted the mayor as having “very little interest or aptitude for government policy or governmental operations.”
“My popular rating in New York City has always been higher than his,” he wrote, calling de Blasio “one of the worst mayors in modern history” and accusing him of “obvious ego driven narcissism.”
“De Blasio’s standing is somewhere between negative and irrelevant,” he wrote. “He is just annoying and counterproductive. Trump is a serious threat.”
“Andrew Cuomo writing about ego-driven narcissism sounds like the pot calling the kettle black,” a de Blasio spokesman told the Times. “It’s more of the same from a bully facing impeachment after covering up deaths at nursing homes and numerous credible accusations of sexual assault.”